Tuesday, July 3, 2012

NBA Draft 2012 - Rolling the Dice (Part I)

In a perfect world, every pick in the NBA Draft would have, at the very least, a productive career in the NBA.

Unfortunately for us (and the player, of course), this is not a perfect world. It's not even close.

The average NBA career lasts four years. For every Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Steve Nash, there's a 2nd-round draft pick who doesn't even make a roster and never will.

Like all drafts in major league sports, each pick is a crap shoot. Injuries, more often than not, can derail a stellar career in to anonymity, sometimes even paving the way for unheralded journeyman to make their mark on the game. Skill in college doesn't always translate well to the NBA, and yet sixth men and undrafted free agents can sometimes make superstars.

Despite all of the film and all of the interviews, the draft is a deeply flawed and imperfect science, where hope, skill and a team system all weigh in the balance of the NBA prospect.

But it's for all of this uncertainty and hope that we love the NBA Draft, and the excitement the young rookies bring to the game is unparalleled in most of the sporting world. We can ignore the David Stern's and the labor unions and the anger towards LeBron James just long enough to appreciate the emotion and desire these NBA hopefuls have for their game.

It goes without being said the highly anticipated 2012 Draft wouldn't be without some surprises and head-scratchers, and it certainly provided both.

In ten years, everything I say about the draft will probably be wrong, because we honestly don't know what's going to happen with these players.

But it won't keep me from providing a little insight on an often muddy subject.

 Top NBA Draft 2012 Headlines

Kentucky goes no. 1 and no. 2 for history
-For the first time in NBA history, two players from the same team claimed the top two lottery picks in an NBA Draft. Anthony Davis expectantly went to the New Orleans Hornets with the number one pick, but it was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist going number two to the Charlotte Bobcats that had even more cameras flashing and the two "brothers" exchanging prolonged hugs and handshakes for Coach Cal and the media. The Bobcats' pick, a hotly-debated topic over the last two weeks, ended up changing the entire contour of the draft as teams waited on the hinges of the pick. While Charlotte and it's fans seem to be thrilled with their pick, the outside world collectively flinched when MKG's name was called, as analysts believed either Thomas Robinson or Bradley Beal would be better fits for their system.

Cavs go out on limb, select Waiters as no. 4
-Leading up to the draft, Waiters did the unthinkable, working out for no one and hoping his resume spoke for itself. Apparently, it spoke volumes, as the sixth man out of Syracuse was selected with the no. 4 pick out of Cleveland. With Bradley Beal (Florida) going to the Wizards at no. 3, many draft boards put Thomas Robinson as the clearly best player to go next in the draft. Dan Gilbert and Cleveland thought otherwise, plucking Waiters from the depths and providing Kyrie Irving a little help in the backcourt. Waiters has been compared to the likes of Dwayne Wade with his ability to drive and hit jump shots, but we'll have to "waiter" see what happens with this pick. Hopefully he can "serve" up a few points in his rookie year, maybe even provide a few "dishes" to wide-eyed open players. Expectations could mount high, though, putting too much on his "plate". I'll see myself to the door.

Fear and loathing: teams balk on Sullinger, Perry Jones III
-Just one year ago, Jared Sullinger (Ohio State) and PJIII (Baylor) were sure-fire lottery picks. This draft, however, shows how much can change in one year. Fears swept across the league's front offices when reports came from clinical physicians that Sullinger's back and Jones's knees would give out, thus drastically lowering the draft stock on both of them. Teams disregarded both of their standout sophomore seasons, instead taking young, unproven NCAA talent. The result? The Boston Celtics landed Sully with the no. 21 pick in the draft, while the NBA Finalist Oklahoma City Thunder cradled Jones, III. I know it's a little early to be hailing these picks as the "steals" of the draft, but if we're going on pure athleticism alone, these two are hard to miss. I guess the stories of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy (oddly, two Blazers) really do make teams shudder.

Rockets shoot for the moon, land among the stars
-In one of the most high-profile chases in NBA history, the Houston Rockets dumped Chase Budinger and Samuel Dalembert for the no. 18 and no. 12 picks, respectively, positioning themselves for a run on Orlando's Dwight Howard. Just days before the draft, the Rockets then tried to trade for the Sacramento Kings pick at no. 5, just to sweeten the deal even further for DHow. It did not come to fruition, however, as the Kings kept their pick, selecting the incredibly athletic Thomas Robinson (who looks pretty good next to DeMarcus Cousins) with their selection. With DHow resisting a trade to the Rockets and Orlando not interested in three first-rounders, Houston went with the next best thing: drafting size. Iowa State's Royce White, Kentucky's Terrence Jones and UConn's Jeremy Lamb bring young talent to a depleted roster. While I'm in the minority, I firmly believe the Rockets made excellent moves to secure young talent in the future and increasing their spending power for generations to come.

I will wait to send out my draft grades, as this year's free-agency is turning out to be a rather exciting time. As it turns out, some teams were thinking a few moves ahead when drafting (Atlanta, Dallas)...while others were clearly asleep at the wheel (Indiana, Toronto).


  1. When you're as bad as Charlotte, you don't draft for need, which is why the Bobs drafted two SFs. Best available player. They aren't (ever?) going to be luring any big name free agents, so they need good draft picks and players that they can trade later for more good draft picks. Rich Cho knows what's up. Here's to another terrible season in Charlotte and another chance to win the lottery.

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  3. I agree, Charlie, that you should draft the best player available. As a 'Cats fan through and through, I still wonder if MKG was worth of a no. 2 pick. A top 5 pick? Sure. But no. 2? I thought Thomas Robinson was a sure-fire top 3 pick with his athleticism and ability to get to the rim. Cho made some good moves, no doubt, but the Bobcats will not be as putrid as they were last year.